4.03.2015

Let's move on...

source unknown, but this picture makes me happy

Hi! It's been a while, and I've missed this space. It's been a rough couple of weeks, although I don't particularly feel like listing out the reasons why.

My husband comes home at the end of every day and needs to talk. He wants to debrief about his day, especially if it was a difficult one. He needs to hash it out and unload. I am the opposite. I don't like to bring work home, and I mentally shift gears once I leave the office. If I've had a hard day, that's all the more reason for me to leave work behind and focus on other things. This can be an area of contention between us, as sometimes I don't want to listen to his end-of-day dump; and sometimes if I say I had a bad day, he wants me to talk about it! We've learned to compromise over the years and recognize these differences in each other. 

These past few weeks have been difficult for both of us, so there's been a lot of talking and not-talking, but mostly we've just been busy and working way too much. Not much balance. I'm ready to look forward.

And so, we enter April. April! Yay! We survived March. April is my least favorite month of the year, but at least I didn't have to wear gloves this morning. I will probably have my rain boots on every day this week, but that's okay. Rain will eventually wash the snow away (one day!) and bring flowers (I can see the tips of tulips!). We also have a trip planned for the end of the month to look forward to. 

Other things that got me out of my funk: yoga, bright yellow tulips, reigniting after-dinner dance parties, ice cream (my current favorite flavor, especially when paired with this), a brunch with friends, and a new dress that I plan to wear on vacation and all summer long.   


3.20.2015

I'm Not Gonna Lie...


This week has thoroughly and completely kicked my ass. I plan to enjoy some sleep and some basketball this weekend and look forward to brighter days ahead. 

3.09.2015

Weekend Recap and Making Plans...


I was recently reminded about Waterlogue.  So fun, and yes my house still looks like this. It's supposed to be relatively warm this week, so I expect the mounds will start to get smaller, gradually. We set our clocks forward over the weekend, and it was light outside as we ate dinner last night. Summer is coming!

I had a pedicure and lunch with a friend of mine over the weekend. We've been friends for over 15 years now - long enough to have "do you remember when?" conversations, which is always fun. She's also one of those friends that can really make me laugh - as in, really belly-laugh. It feels so good to do that. We should all do it more. She has three (!) boys now, and she handles everything with such grace; I will forever and always be in awe of her. I adore having such inspiring and uplifting friends in my life. 

The boys were both invited to a birthday party on Saturday evening. A movie-themed party at their house, which is just genius. Kevin and I enjoyed a free date-night, going out to dinner at a new Spanish restaurant in town. On Sunday, we split up - Kevin and Aaron got one last day of skiing in, and Nathan and I puttered around the house, cleaning and laundry and a trip to the grocery store. As annoying as those tasks are, I must admit I had a really nice time hanging out with my little helper all day. We mixed in some coloring and baking to increase the fun factor. (We used up our overripe bananas the way we always do. These banana bars are soooooo good!)

Kevin's 40th birthday is next month - finally, it's his turn! We booked a long weekend away to celebrate, and although we were originally intending it to be a kid-free vacation, Kevin decided that he wanted the kids to have a break from the cold as well. So we will all be heading to the Dominican Republic for a few days. I can't wait! I even bought a new bathing suit and tried it on and didn't cringe at the mirror. (JCrew bathing suits never fail me.) I can't wait to lounge in the shade while the boys play in the pool or the sea. As I look outside at the melting snow, I will be looking forward to this...

From snow and mud to this.  Can't wait!  Picture via here.

3.02.2015

Recently Read



The Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant.  This is a lovely fictional memoir of a Jewish girl born in Boston to immigrant parents in the early 1900s. Written as a conversation to her granddaughter, it's a beautiful story. I enjoyed reading life lessons through the eyes of the main character, Addie Baum, and I particularly enjoyed it since it was based here in my part of the world.

In the Woods, by Tana French.  In 1984, three friends went into the woods to play. When they didn't come home for dinner, a search began, and only one kid was found - Rob Ryan. Standing against a tree with blood-filled shoes, he had no memory of what happened to him and his friends. Rob moved away, changed his name, grew up, and became a police detective. Twenty years later, a girl was murdered in the same woods, and Rob was assigned to the case. Sounds intriguing, right?  I was pulled right into this murder-mystery, anticipating a resolution that never really came, and although I was entertained along the way, I was ultimately disappointed and sad.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande.  I must confess, I've developed something of a crush on Dr. Gawande. A general surgeon at Brigham & Women's hospital and a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, he has written several books and articles. I love his honesty, his beautiful writing, and his genuine desire to dive deep into a subject. This book is not a happy one - nobody wants to talk or think about dying - but it's an incredibly important one. He uses a lot of personal examples, including his own father's death, to convey his message about the role of medicine in our last phase of life. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I would encourage everyone to read it, or at the very least, watch the documentary about it.

2.27.2015

Father John Misty - Chateau Lobby #4


This week has been all about Father John Misty. His voice is so silky smooth, and his lyrics are both touching and funny. A few lines from this song from his latest album:

"I wanna take you in the kitchen
Lift up your wedding dress someone was probably murdered in
So bourgeoisie to keep waiting
Dating for twenty years just feels pretty civilian
I’ve never thought that
Ever thought that once in my whole life
You are my first time

People are boring
But you’re something else I can’t explain
You take my last name

First time you let me stay the night
Despite your own rules
You took off early to go cheat your way through film school
You left a note in your perfect script
Stay as long as you want
I haven’t left your bed since"


That wedding dress line cracks me up every time, but the overall song is so sweet. 

Love.


2.24.2015

Enjoying Winter...

I love this one of me and a bundled-up Nathan on the lift

When you have six feet of snow in your yard, what should you do?  Head north and play in more snow!  

We spent a week in the Vermont mountains. Overall, we had a really nice time, despite the initial brutal cold and an accident on the second day that caused a serious knee injury for one of our friends. He will be having surgery this week as a result. That definitely put a damper on the trip, but he maintained an amazingly positive attitude about it all and refused to allow it to impact the rest of us. The conditions were wonderful, and it was nice to see the advantage of getting so much snow this winter. The kids are getting so good, too, which is really fun to watch.




I wonder how many years in a row I can take this same picture from the top

Now we're home and getting back into our routine. The winter is going to get old pretty quickly now that our ski trip is behind us, and I find I'm already dreading spring. Don't get me wrong - seeing my grass again will be nice, but I hate the cold and rainy days of March and April. I'm also going to be working a lot during the next couple months. 

I need to find some positives and focus on those to get me through. Plan some outings with friends, date nights, play-dates for the boys, make some music mixes and spend quality time with new albums, organize an area of the house...anything to help us muddle through the hardest part of the year. I'm grateful to birthday party invitations for the boys, and I'm reminded that Kevin's birthday and my own are both in those awful months, so at least that gives us an excuse to celebrate.

I should remind myself, though - It's not spring yet. A few more inches of snow coming tonight. Maybe we can fit in some more skiing...


2.10.2015

Priorities...

I kept hitting snooze this morning, despite my intentions to get up early to exercise. Then I remembered that I would be shoveling quite a bit again today, and shoveling is pretty damn good exercise. You should see my shoulder definition right now.  

This has been a remarkable winter so far. I've lived in Boston for a long time now, and I'm fairly comfortable with snowstorms, but Mother Nature still has a way of surprising us. Three snowstorms in two weeks! Five missed days of school/work. And mountains of snow. Everywhere

It's really no wonder we spend so much of our lives talking about the weather. 

Amidst all the snow days, I've been trying to make sure we're hitting on all cylinders.  I know what my priorities are, and I work really hard to make sure I'm spending time on all of them. Often, I feel like I come up short, but I do have times when I feel pretty good about all of it. The key is to be intentional about it. If I feel like I'm in control over how I'm spending my time, then I have no one but myself to blame if I'm not spending it the right way. That sounds easier than it actually is of course, but you know what I mean.  

This:

My priorities this week?  
- The boys (always #1)
- Work (vacation next week, so work has to take a high spot in preparation)
- Shoveling (did I mention all the snow?)
- Yoga (targeting 3 times, to try to stretch out my tight neck and shoulders)
- Guitar (it's been too long since I picked it up)
- Finishing my book (Kevin's out of town, so this should be an easy one)
- Getting a couple friend gatherings on the calendar
- Vacation planning 

2.09.2015

The Decemberists - Wrong Year


This week's music pick is the Decemberists.  I'm digging the new album, and this song isn't even close to my favorite.  Enjoy!


2.06.2015

A Couple New Recipes...


Since going back to work, I've mostly relied on our dinner standards, in addition to going out to eat and getting take-out more often than I'd like. I recently decided to go through my giant stack of food magazines, and in doing so, I identified a couple new recipes to try. It was time.

This easy meatless manicotti was good. It's very similar to spinach lasagna. I was worried about how my boys would do with it, but they both loved it! I served with a wheat baguette, salad, and a bottle of red wine. It's a high-maintenance meal, so it's reserved for Sundays, but it makes enough for a leftovers night during the week too.

I had saved a recipe for shrimp curry with coconut rice, but then I couldn't find it or didn't have one needed ingredient. I looked online and decided on this one instead - Coconut-Curry Shrimp. I think the reason I've failed with curry dishes with the boys is that I've typically only included veggies. They are pretty good with veggies, but I thought perhaps I'd have better luck if I tried something different. And it worked!  They both LOVED this dish as much as I did. It was easy, too. I used cilantro instead of basil, because that's what I had, but I otherwise made it exactly as written and served with broccoli. Definitely a keeper!

2.05.2015

A Few Things...



Just wanted to share a few interesting reads...

What you learn in your 40s.  I loved this. I am absolutely loving my 40s so far.  Perspective is a beautiful thing.

The Definitive Guide to Healthy Eating.  Brilliant.  Exactly what I think whenever I read a new article about some particular food I'm eating that is supposedly going to ruin my life.

Sarah Silverman Gets Serious at Sundance.  I mostly loved reading this because I hate when people get pigeon-holed.  "People are not all one thing."  Amen.

Teenage Kicks.  My talented friend Lou writes about being a mom of a teen and reminds me of the phases still in front of us.

8 Reasons Why You Should Marry the Complicated Girl.  Here's to speaking your mind and being your own woman, and to the men who decide we're worth it.

Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield put together an album of Elliott Smith covers.  There is so much to love about that sentence.

The Mother 'Hood Official Video.  So funny and so true.  We all judge each other, even though we try (some of us harder than others) not to.  Ultimately, though, it is (or it certainly should be) all about the kids.

You're a Mom, You Know.  And this one sums it up. No matter what kind of mom we choose to be, we all get it, because we're Moms.

2.04.2015

Escaping...


We did it!  Two other working mom friends managed to escape to the New Hampshire mountains last weekend. We left our husbands and kids behind, and we enjoyed the break and the company. It was freezing cold, but it was gorgeous. We skied, we ate good food, we marveled at the ease of getting ready without kids in tow, and we talked a lot about how hard it is to keep up with everything at home. I then came home mentally recharged and physically sore in the best way.  

Now I'm back at it. Work is pretty crazy at the moment, and it seems it will remain that way for the next few months. I find myself back in survival mode. I'm happy I have another break coming up, though - more time in the mountains, this time Vermont, and this time with the whole family and our best friends. We will ski, catch up, laugh, play, and relax at least a little. It's going to be great and I can't wait. 

In the meantime, I'm going to work on fighting this annoying little cold I seem to have brought home with me. I'm going to plan some meetings with friends who I haven't seen in a while.  I'm going to organize something in the house. I'm going to stare in awe at the amount of snow in our yard. And I'm going to continue to live in the moment, soaking up the little joys in every day.


1.23.2015

Memories and Snow...


It's time for me to start meditating on a regular basis again. I have never been very good at it, but just the act of sitting still for a few minutes and calming my thoughts does wonders for me. Last night, I found myself getting snippy with my kids and then my husband, and I know that I get that way when I'm stretched too far. My goal for the coming weeks will be to find a way to sit still and take a few deep breaths from time to time. 

We watched the movie "Boyhood" last weekend, and I can't stop thinking about it. It's not exciting, and my husband dozed on and off throughout the movie. But it's beautiful. There were several aspects of the boy's childhood that I could relate to my own, and I thought about what my own movie would look like. What are main memories I have of my childhood - the big moments as well as the little, seemingly insignificant ones that have stuck with me all these years?  They've been playing in my head all week. How did they influence who I am today?

As I read to the boys this week, one snuggled in on each side, I thought about their childhoods. They are really only now getting to the point of forming lasting memories, especially my little Nathan. I think about the kind of childhood they're having. On one hand, I only want them to have happy memories, and yet at the same time I know that we all grow through the hard parts. I also know that I will not always be the biggest influence in their lives. Love is letting go, little by little, and allowing them to grow. Figuring out when to hold on and when to let go is the trick, and we're only at the beginning.

"Boyhood"

After too much work lately, I am very much looking forward to a family-focused weekend. We're set to get our first snowstorm of the winter tomorrow, which means movies and hot chocolate and snuggling in front of the fireplace. On Sunday, after the storm passes, we will be playing in the snow. Hoping to get a day on the slopes nearby.

Making memories...


1.19.2015

Ages and Ages - Do the Right Thing


I just love this song and this video. It makes me smile. This album was put back into heavy rotation over the last couple of weeks - it seems to fit my mood and desire to keep things light and energetic during this cold and dreary January.  


1.15.2015

This and That...

I'm definitely back in full swing at work. I go back and forth between loving it and wanting to pull the covers over my head, feeling fulfilled and guilty, being tired and exhilarated. On one hand, I feel guilty that our boys have had inconsistencies in their after-school care. I feel guilty that they often need to go to school early so that we can get to work. On the other hand, I know without a doubt that it is a good thing for them to see their father making lunches and doing school drop-off. It's a good thing for them to see me working. I know I need to come to terms with this state of being, because I would no doubt be doing the same thing if I was not working. In fact, just last year I was!

Kevin and I filled each other's stockings for Christmas. One of the items I put in his was the Taylor Swift CD, 1989. I knew it was his guilty pleasure, and he readily admitted to cranking up the volume every time "Blank Space" came on the radio. I thought it was funny, but little did I know how much he would love it. Since then, I have caught all three of my boys singing TS songs under their breath around the house. I am okay with this. (And yes, Sara, we are jelly. ;-)

Taylor Swift, via billboard

I've been in that January state of mind. I purchased an organization system to store all the boys' art supplies - that clean set of drawers and baskets makes me so happy. I filled a couple more boxes to be donated. I organized our closet. After the excess of the holiday season, all I want to do is get rid of stuff!

Speaking of excess, I've also been mindful of our diet. Another typical January activity...We just ate cheese and cookies and drank wine for an entire month - now let's cut it all out! I'm not one for any kind of elimination diet or cleanse - moderation is my friend. That said, I decided to cut out alcohol for the month of January. Ice cream too. I'm in a general rhythm of a greek yogurt and granola for breakfast, a big salad and/or soup for lunch, and a small balanced dinner with the family. With some dark chocolate snacks after the boys go to bed, because like I said, I am not about to deprive myself of everything!

We went to a concert last weekend - an annual benefit concert for a local charity foundation. We went last year too. This year, we not only got to see Kay Hanley and Tanya Donelly (Belly), but we saw The Juliana Hatfield Three perform for the first time in 20 years. All their songs brought me back to my college days. Sunny days on campus, and going to clubs to see shows. It was so fun to see them.

Juliana Hatfield

Work interrupted the weekend, but we did also make time to hit the bookstore. I am a sucker for books, and the stack on my nightstand is getting low. I'm not near the end of my current book, but it's always nice to have something to look forward to. And the bookstore is a pretty fun outing. The boys each spent some of their allowance money, of which I heartily approve, and I picked up a couple for me and Kevin too.

We're looking forward to our next vacation - more skiing next month! Before that, I'm trying to plan a quick girls' ski weekend. Let's see if it's possible for a few working moms to plan an outing just for us. I think it is. We're also dreaming of a warmer vacation...perhaps celebrating Kevin's 40th on a beach somewhere? Anything's possible...  And then we need to plan the summer.

It's January. A time for cleaning, purging, eating healthy, exercising, organizing, and planning. A time to look forward to the rest of the year in anticipation. Welcome 2015!

1.12.2015

Recently Read


The Children Act, by Ian McEwan.  I really want to love all of Ian McEwan's books.  The first of his books that I read was 'Atonement', which I absolutely adored.  Since then, I've started his books with very high expectations, and I almost always feel let down. This book was good. It was interesting. The writing, as always, is beautiful and true. But it just never grabbed me, and I never felt a true connection with the characters.

Suspect, by Robert Crais.  This is not a book I would've normally picked up. I received it in a gift basket we won from our local library during last summer's reading challenge. I am not normally drawn to thrillers or crime dramas, but I read it anyway, and I rather enjoyed it.

Us, by David Nicholls.  I am not sure how I feel about this book. On one hand, it's such a realistic story, and the family dynamics are perfectly portrayed. I really felt for all of the characters. On the other hand, maybe it was a little too realistic? I found it somewhat sad, even though it ends in a perfectly satisfactory way. I guess I usually wish for that Hollywood happy ending and feel a little let down when it doesn't deliver. But maybe it's better - and all the more touching - exactly because it's not a typical happy ending.

1.10.2015

Do Less With More Focus...


This is my goal for the year.  It's difficult, because there are so many things that I want to do and that need doing, but when I try to do everything, I constantly feel like I'm failing.  I have to make choices, and certainly there are things that can be eliminated.  It's a good goal.  

As I skied with my boys over the holiday, I focused.  I took in all the beauty and fun of a vacation with quality family time. Now, let's be perfectly honest:  skiing is hard.  Skiing with kids is really hard.  There's so much stuff - to pack, to carry, to store, to put on, to take off...  Every year, I have moments where I question our sanity in doing it. It's expensive, it's cold, it's difficult. But then I watch Nathan shaking his behind at me to show me how he's perfecting his turns, I hear Aaron shout "woo-hoo!" after landing a jump, I breathe in the cold, clear mountain air and admire the scenery, and there is absolutely no question - it's worth it. 

I thoroughly enjoyed every run, frozen fingers and all, I took in the beauty of the surrounding mountains, and I smiled at the fun my boys were having in front of me. I also loved the hot chocolates and the games of Uno in the lodge and a visit to friends and movie nights.  It was beautiful.  

the ride to the top

best spot in the lodge!

12.30.2014

Family Time...

I'm so happy to report that I have been able to log some couch time. I've also managed a couple mornings of sleeping in, and I feel so much better. We also have a line on a new sitter for the remainder of the school year. It's all coming together.

We enjoyed a lovely holiday, with the highlight for me being Christmas Eve. We attended the Boston Pops' Holiday concert, as we do every year. We went out to lunch, and then we snuggled on the couch to watch 'Home Alone'. Kevin made his traditional lobster mac 'n cheese for dinner. Kevin and Aaron walked up to the family service at our neighborhood church while Nathan and I worked on a puzzle. Perfect. Just a wonderful day all around. 


We spent a couple days with family, and the boys were overloaded with toys. Despite our efforts to keep it simple, gifts from extended family overrule, and certainly the boys don't mind. They got a lot of really great and fun and even some practical gifts. After a couple days, Nathan couldn't wait to get home to play with them all, and Aaron has been heads-down on his Santa gift - a Chima lego set - since we arrived.

And now we're preparing for a few days of skiing to welcome in the new year. It will be great, but I admit that my thoughts will be on my family as well. We lost an uncle, and they will be celebrating his life this week. I'm sad that I won't be able to join them, but I will be sending love from afar. It certainly puts everything into perspective. Family and friends. There's nothing more important.

12.23.2014

All I Want For Christmas...

...is some time on the couch. Truly. I've been trying to soak in as much of the season as possible, decorating the tree, and sending/receiving cards, and watching the Grinch, and making cookies, and wrapping presents... But when the day finally arrives, what I'm really looking forward to most is snuggling with all my boys on the couch and watching a movie. I'm looking forward to a little rest. 


The holiday season has seemed especially short and fast this year, and after three months back at work, I'm officially back to reactive, struggling-to-keep-up mode. This bums me out. I had such high hopes for being able to stay organized and adjusting to the new schedule in a way that would allow me to stay on top of things. Alas. I will admit that it is easier than it was a couple years ago, but it's still pretty darn hard. 

In acknowledging how quickly the holiday season flies by, I've recognized that we are in prime Christmas years with the boys. They are both still avid Santa believers, making their lists and getting excited for Christmas morning. Nathan refuses to mail his list to Santa, needing to add "just one more thing" almost every day. Their lists are full of really fun items, and I expect to spend a good amount of time building lego sets during the break. They love helping me make and decorate cookies, and they get excited to go to the Holiday Pops concert at Symphony Hall - we're going tomorrow, and I can't wait! 

I know that in just a few short years, they won't play the Santa game any more, and their excitement will be more about spending time with friends and going to the movies. They may not want to make cookies with me, or go to the Pops concert. When that happens, I will probably write about it here, as Lou recently did.  It's okay, and it's all part of the phases of life. In the meantime, I want to make sure that I am fully present during this wonderfully exciting time that is right now.

picture by Jenna at sweet fine day

12.16.2014

Eight!


My sweet boy is eight. I want to take the hands of the clock and hold them still, but I sigh and celebrate the passing of time instead. Having a blog is fun for many reasons, but one reason is being able to look back at posts like this and this and this. Some people have scrapbooks and baby albums. I have a blog. As the years have passed, I've shared a little less of my boys, and I suspect that trend will continue as they get older. But I'm happy I've been able to capture some of the highlights here. I do create family photo albums, but here is where I capture some of the details. Such as...

This year Aaron requested a lego-themed party, and he loved helping me come up with the activities. We had "guess how many legos in the jar", a bean bag toss, pin the head on the lego guy, a memory game, a scavenger hunt, and finally...an Emmet piƱata of course. In-between activities the kids enjoyed ice cream sundaes, which has become his tradition as well. He invited three girls and three boys - a perfect-sized group of great kids getting together to celebrate one fabulous boy.  


12.15.2014

Ups and Downs and Looking Forward...


The holiday season is always a busy one, and it's especially full this year. I've had to say no to some of our usual activities, including homemade gifts and presents to my siblings, and we'll probably only fit in one day of cookie-making. That's okay, of course, but I admit that it's been difficult. I feel like the season is rushing by, and I haven't been able to stop long enough to fully appreciate it. It's not over yet, though, and I plan to get my fill. 

Kevin and I attended my office holiday party last week. It was at Fenway Park, and the above photo shows our view. It was a ton of fun, and it only reinforced my decision to join such a great group of people. The people make all the difference. 

In other happy news, I'm happy that Nathan has requested "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" for his bedtime story for the past few nights. It's my favorite. I'm happy that the grocery store had the good egg nog this week. I'm happy that my mom got to see "Elf" for the first time when she was here. 

Things are going well overall, but I admit that our weekends are more full of errands than I'd like, and due to more sitter issues, it's been a particularly stressful week. The arrangement works great when it works, but when things get thrown off balance, everything gets really hard. 

In other words, we are all ready for the Christmas break. We are planning on attending the Holiday Pops concert on Christmas Eve, spending a quiet night at home with just the four of us. I can't wait to watch the first Harry Potter movie with Aaron. I am going to thoroughly enjoy cookies and Kevin's lobster mac 'n cheese. I am eager to see the boys' excitement on Christmas morning. In the meantime, I'm going to listen to lots of Christmas music and take it one day at a time.
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